Church tells nurses: be open about faith

There is nothing wrong with offering to pray for a patient, a leading clergyman has told a gathering of nurses.

It is a “mistake” for healthcare professionals to keep their faith to themselves but “not surprising”, said the Very Revd John Hall, the Dean of Westminster.

He was speaking to around 2,000 nurses at the annual Florence Nightingale service at Westminster Abbey in London.

“Discussion of spiritual matters and of faith is often strange to people,” he said. “We tend to keep our spiritual motivation and our faith to ourselves. That is a mistake but not surprising.

“We keep it to ourselves for fear of offending others or out of fear of contradiction or because we are unsure of the right language in which to express elusive concepts.

“And yet the human spirit and spiritual health is fundamental to healing and wholeness. So every health professional, every doctor, every nurse needs to be easy and familiar with the language of the spirit in order to express the almost inexpressible.

“And I should say that offering to pray for someone is not a sin and should not be regarded as an offence.”

Dr Hall’s comments followed the case of Christian nurse Caroline Petrie, who was suspended after she offered to pray for a patient.

Her employers alleged that her offer had broken ‘equality and diversity’ rules. Mrs Petrie was reinstated following widespread media coverage of her situation.

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